June 23, 2009
Media release, Tu Wahine Trust. 22 June 2009
‘Tick Yes for Tikanga Maori’ is the message being promoted by Tu Wahine Trust in West Auckland in response to the upcoming referendum. Maori must reject the law that sanctions the abuse of our tamariki and vote YES to help restore our cultural well-being practices says Sue Ngawati Osborne, child advocate (Maori) who is hosted by Tu Wahine Trust in Waitakere City.
“Hitting children is not part of traditional Maori child-raising practice – this would be like striking a tupuna (ancestor/grandparent) in the old days.” says Sue Ngawati Osborne. “Maori children are seen as carriers of whakapapa and mana which must be protected and honoured.
“Observations from prominent European settlers of the 1800s confirm that Maori treated their children with great respect, love and devotion – and not only to their immediate offspring. In fact the settlers were surprised to see just how indulgent Maori men were to their children and of never seeing a child being struck are a couple of examples that reveal a history of non-violence towards children uncommon to the Europeans who observed it.
“The law on child discipline was imposed on Maori by the early settlers and has had disastrous effects. Now, more than 160 years later, child maltreatment and abuse is a huge issue for Maori to overcome.
“What is helpful is that Maori have the knowledge, traditions and expertise within their own communities to counter this law, apply cultural healing and eliminate violence against tamariki.”
There are Maori service providers in the community such as Tu Wahine Trust who are there to help rangatahi (young people) and whanau with parenting programmes and violence prevention programmes to keep our tamariki safe, she said.
Tu Wahine Trust supports the approach of Te Kahui Mana Ririki who state: “Smacking is simply another expression of violence against Maori children. If we can break the habit that our whanau have of hitting children, then more serious forms of abuse and maltreatment will also reduce.”
By voting YES to the referendum question, we can all play a part in restoring the status of our tamariki as taonga (treasures) who live free from violence and abuse.” says Ms Osborne.